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Cape Town - Documents in the possession of the Cape Times raise questions about the sequence of events that left 18-year-old Flippie Engelbrecht blind, and his subsequent injuries after an alleged assault by a farmer and farm manager.
Carina Papenfus, the secretary of The Freedom Trust, a farmworkers’ rights NGO, has been advising the family and filed a complaint with the Sea Point police on Engelbrecht’s behalf earlier this year.
Papenfus has said Engelbrecht was assaulted on Friday, January 25, 2008.
On the Sunday, she said, he was “in and out of consciousness” and was taken to a doctor in Robertson on Monday, January 28, and, later that day, in an ambulance to Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, for “emergency surgery” that left him blind.
Engelbrecht, who was born on December 28, 1994, according to records, was 13 at the time.
Papenfus has also said Engelbrecht fell into a fire, leaving him with severe burns, in September 2009.
Subsequently his hands were amputated.
Robertson wine farmer Johnny Burger and his manager, Wilhelm Treurnicht, appeared in the Ashton Magistrate’s Court last week, and the case was postponed to September 13.
On Tuesday morning, Burger, who owned the Rietvallei farm on which the assault allegedly took place, was found dead at home. It is suspected he took his own life.
Documents in the possession of the Cape Times indicate that Engelbrecht was taken to a doctor on August 15, 2009, complaining of “swelling on the side of his face”. This was 19 months after the alleged assault.
Another report, compiled from Worcester Hospital medical records, states that he was referred from Robertson to Worcester Hospital on August 19, 2009 “for possible brain abscess”. He was seen and then sent to Tygerberg Hospital the next day for a brain scan.
In October 2009, he was evaluated by the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired in Worcester with a view to placing him in the school.
Records from the Pioneer School say that: “According to the parents he became blind in a strange way, after a boil on his cheek, and was taken to a local doctor.
“Swelling occurred and his condition worsened, whereafter he was taken to Worcester Hospital.
“According to the mother he was there for about six weeks, and on release he was blind.”
A Worcester Hospital report also states that Engelbrecht was referred from Robertson on August 19 last year with burns.
Engelbrecht was treated for burns and 10 days later had to have his hands amputated in Worcester. After this he was referred to Tygerberg for more treatment.
An occupational therapy report from Tygerberg Hospital from September last year confirms that Engelbrecht had suffered burns on August 19.
This was almost three years after the date given by Papenfus.